jakeVia Paradise of Bachelors, the self-titled debut long player from North Carolina singer and guitarist, Jake Xerxes Fussell – a lively and wholehearted gem of folk, country and bluegrass.

Immersed in old world Americana, Fussell’s debut finds him accompanied by William Tyler on production and guitar, as well as Chris Scruggs on steel guitar, bass and mandolin, Brian Kotzur on drums and Hoot Hester on fiddle. Together, they light a fire that pays a warm and embracing tribute to the past, while keeping the arrangements and delivery easy and limber – making for a record that is not only gorgeous, but also a hell of a good time.

Tracks “Let Me Lose” and “Push Boat” positively groove. Everyone sounds so good on this record and if they accomplish one thing – it’s making you want to move. But Tyler’s luminous production creates an atmosphere for quieter, more plaintive moments as well. He exposes every nook and cranny of Fussell’s beautiful, creaky voice – aged beyond his years – and on “Star Girl” he melts together with Scruggs’ steel guitar spectacularly. Indeed, this band has an incredible chemistry, and their sounds often fuse together into one. On moments such “Rabbit on a Log” and “Georgia Buck,” Hester’s fiddle oozes across the tape while the guitarists dance around, across and on top of it.

The strange, arcane lyricism of these old tunes paint lush landscapes of rural life and pondering – a deceptive simplicity that Fussell’s voice and fingerpicking are suited perfectly. “Raggy Levy,” a song dating back to the Georgia Sea Island Singers in 1942, finds him singing about stone fences and sweet potatoes. It seems completely innocuous, but Tyler’s atmospheric production again comes into play and the low mix of organ and percussion swirl around Fussell’s emphatic delivery. Quietly, but unmistakably, the poignancy of this group’s paean to the vistas and spirits of their land take hold of you. And you don’t want it to let go. words / c depasquale

Jake Xerxes Fussell :: Raggy Levy


For his 1970 counterculture headtrip epic, Zabriskie Point, Italian auteur Michelangelo Antonioni had an inspired idea. He’d hire American Primitive pioneer John Fahey to supply (at least part of) the soundtrack. Things didn’t quite work out according to plan, however.

Here’s the scoop from Fahey himself, from an interview with Byron Coley at Perfect Sound Forever.

“Antonioni says, ‘What I want you to do is to compose some music that will go along with the porno scene.’ I kept saying, ‘Yes, sir.’ Then he starts this, ‘Now, John. This is young love. Young love.’ I mean, that’s young love? All these bodies? ‘Young love. But John, it’s in the desert, where’s there’s death. But it’s young love.’ He kept going, ‘Young Love/Death’ faster and faster. I was sure I was talking to a madman. I’m still sure I was.

“So I experimented. I had instrumentalists come in and told them just to play whatever they felt like. They had to pretend to understand what I was talking about, especially if Antonioni came in the room. That was fun. They were very cooperative. I came up with some sections of music that sounded more like death than young love. It was actually pretty ominous. I played it for Michelangelo and he thought it was great. So he took me out to dinner at this really fancy restaurant and started telling me how horrible the United States was. We were drinking a lot of wine and I don’t remember which one of us started cussing. It started real fast and ended in a fistfight. You have no idea how much that guy hates the United States. What a jerk.”

Fahey was known to never let the truth get in the way of a good story, so his tale of drunken fisticuffs with Antonioni may not be entirely factual. But it is a good story! In the end, Jerry Garcia ended up supplying the (quite lovely) music for Zabriskie Point‘s famous desert orgy sequence. Meanwhile, some of the recordings Fahey made for the film found their way into the hands of collectors, and you can head over to the estimable Delta-Slider blog to check those out. It’s very interesting stuff, with Fahey conjuring up a desolate landscape with his solo acoustic wanderings. Not sure if there’s a lot of young love in there, but there’s plenty of death.  words / t wilcox


Jennifer :: I Am Waiting (Rolling Stones)


From Del Shannon to Arthur Russell: March, A Medley.

Aquarium Drunkard Presents: March – A Medley


Beyond Spock, beyond his photography, beyond even In Search Of…: the late Leonard Nimoy, music maker. Best known for his novelty hit “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins,” there are deeper, more affecting cuts. See 1970’s The New World of Leonard Nimoy. Over stark country soul arrangements, Nimoy’s voice is worn-in on songs like “I Walk the Line,” “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” and “Everybody’s Talkin’.” Particularly haunted is his reading of Mel Tillis’ “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town.” There are other great versions of the veteran ballad – Johnny Darrell first recorded it, Kenny Rogers and The First Edition made it famous, and Waylon sang it – but Nimoy’s version remains something special. words /  j woodbury

Leonard Nimoy :: Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town

Elsewhere: read more about the music of Leonard Nimoy via Aquarium Drunkard’s Jason P. Woodbury.


Our weekly two hour show on SIRIUS/XMU, channel 35, can be heard twice every Friday – Noon EST with an encore broadcast at Midnight EST.

SIRIUS 379: Jean Michel Bernard – Générique Stephane ++ Pappy’s Haunted House – Dude ++ Jimmy Thomas – Springtime ++ The Paragons – Abba ++ Big Star – Back Of A Car ++ The Soul Inc. – Love Me When I’m Down ++ Billy Lamont – Sweet Thang ++ Donn Shinn & The Soul Agents – A Minor Explosion ++ T.L. Barrett And Youth For Christ Choir – Ever Since ++ Shintaro Sakamoto – In A Phantom Mood ++ Flash & The Dynamics – Electric Latin Soul ++ Donald Jenkins & The Delighters: Elephant Walk ++ Symphonic Four: Who Do You Think Youre Fooling ++ Milton Henry: Gypsy Woman ++ Bishop Perry Tills – I Pound a Solid Rock ++ Serge Gainsbourg – New Delire ++ Phil Upchurch – Sitar Soul ++ White Hinterland – Dreaming Of Plum Trees ++ Jan Hammer Group – Don’t You Know ++ Joe Valentine – I Can’t Stand To See You Go ++ Serge Gainsbourg – Requiem pour un con ++ The Three Degrees – Collage ++ Dion – Baby Let’s Stick Together ++ Margo Guryan – Sunday Morning ++ Robert Vanderbilt & the Foundation Of Souls – A Message Especially From God (AD edit) ++ Ned Doheny – I’ve Got Your Number (demo) ++ Daughn Gibson – Bad Guys ++ Glen Campbell – Guess I’m Dumb ++ Jonathan Rado – Valentine’s Day (McCartney) ++ Paul McCartney – Arrow Through Me ++ Gil Scott-Heron – Message To The Messengers ++ Ty Segall – Goodbye Bread ++ Jerry & Jeff – Voodoo Medicine Man ++ Jack Nitzsche: The Lonely Surfer / Oscar Harris: Twinkle Stars Boo Galoo ++ Joe Bataan: Chick-a-boom ++ Jacques Dutronc: Les Cactus ++ The Shadows: Scotch On The Socks ++ Chubby Checker – Goodbye Victoria ++ Nancy Dupree – James Brown ++ Jackie Shane – Any Other Way ++ The Wallace Brothers – My Baby’s Gone ++ Alex Chilton – Don’t Worry Baby (fragment) ++ Harry Nilsson – Mother Nature’s Son ++ The Beach Boys – God Only Knows (Rehearsal) ++ The Beach Boys – California Girls (Rehearsal) ++ The Beach Boys – Surfer Girl (Rehearsal) ++ The Velvet Underground – Oh! Sweet Nuthin’

*You can listen, for free, online with the SIRIUS three day trial — just submit an email address and they will send you a password.


High atop the mountain of New Age and psychedelic reissues resides a throne for a man not quite of this earth. Hirsute with a colossal presence that was equal parts yoga master, health food prophet and hippie Santa Claus – Father Yod (later Yahowha) is the granddaddy of spiritual-private-press-cum-cult-esque music. However, before his spiritual enlightenment Father was born James Edward Baker in 1922 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He later earned the Silver Star as a United States Marine in World War II and became an expert in Jujitsu. Desiring to become Hollywood stuntman his efforts were derailed when he became enamored by the Nature Boys, a Los Angeles-based group of a beatniks who lived “according to Nature’s Laws.” His time was soon all spent studying philosophy, religion and esoteric spiritual teachings before becoming a follower of Yogi Bhajan, a Sikh spiritual leader and teacher of Kundalini Yoga. Disenchanted when Bhajan declared he was not god, Baker decided to assume the mantle. In 1969, Baker gathered a group of followers dubbed The Source Family and opened a health food restaurant, The Aware Inn, in the Laurel Canyon section of Hollywood. Now christening himself, Father Yod, Baker adopted a credo based on kindness to animals, a fruit diet, the wearing of cotton clothes and, finally, sex without orgasm. Amongst those who worked in The Aware Inn were a number of budding musicians and Father formed the psychedelic free rock band Ya Ho Wha 13 around their talents in 1973.

wsEternal Tapestry is putting the space back in space rock. The Portland, OR collective’s latest opus, Wild Strawberries, sets its sights on wide open, pastoral vibrations. The album title may allude to a classic Ingmar Bergman flick, but you’re more likely going to be reminded of Popol Vuh’s majestic Werner Herzog soundtracks, or perhaps even some of the post-Syd/pre-Dark Side Pink Floyd’s more meditative explorations.

Naturally, it’s a double LP, with several slo-mo jams stretching beyond the 15-minute mark, as droning keyboards, gentle percussion, disembodied vocals and layered guitars all drift in and out of the mix. It’s zone-out music, to be sure, but the trip offers more than just atmosphere — there are some vast sonic realms to get lost in here. words / t wilcox


Having released one of 2014’s finest albums just a few months back, you might think Steve Gunn would rest on his laurels just a bit. But the singer-songwriter-guitarist is keeping very busy this year, with plenty of tour dates, a collaborative LP with Kurt Vile slated for summer and this fantastic, just-released session with avant-Appalachia masters, the Black Twig Pickers. Gunn and the Pickers go way back; multi-instrumentalist Nathan Bowles is in Gunn’s touring band and don’t miss Melodies For A Savage Fix, a duo effort with Mike Gangloff or this excellent (and free) digital release.

Seasonal Hire showcases the musicians’ easy familiarity. Even though Gunn gets separate billing, he’s very much a part of the ensemble here, adding to rusticosmic flow. “Trailways Ramble” ( a re-imagining of a tune that first appeared on Gunn’s Time Off LP) unfolds gorgeously, with guitar, banjo, harmonica, fiddle and jaw harp all blending into some kind of beguiling West Virginia raga. But the album’s real treasure is the side-long, 16-minute title track, an epic that sees the musician’s chasing the eternal drone into uncharted territories. You’ll want to follow them there. words / t wilcox

Steve Gunn & The Black Twig Pickers :: Trailways Ramble